Photo caption in Monday's editions misidentified a Philadelphia Flyers player. He was Terry Carkner. (Published 2/12/91)

There was nearly a riot in the stands. One coach brandished a stick as he walked menacingly toward his opposite number, with only a sheet of plexiglass separating them. On the ice, there were enough fights and altercations that even the goalies got involved. A record 294 minutes in penalties were assessed. At one point, the referee stood on the ice with a yellow legal pad in hand, chronicling the chaos before him.

Oh, by the way, the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, yesterday for their third straight victory in front of 17,583 at Capital Centre.

The Capitals, who played one of their best games in weeks, took a 5-0 lead on goals by Michal Pivonka, Kevin Hatcher, Al Iafrate, Dimitri Khristich and Kelly Miller. The Flyers' Mike Ricci and Derrick Smith scored in the third period. But it's not the goals that will be remembered from this clash.

The Capitals have no better, or more bitter, rivals than the Flyers. Proximity helps, but the intensity of the games is more significant and this one got ugly. The Capitals' Mikhail Tatarinov even got ejected for spitting on goalie Ron Hextall. However unsavory, it might have been the least painful of the 59 transgressions cited.

The Capitals are struggling to make the playoffs and they think a more physical brand of hockey will help them get there. They also remember vividly how the Flyers whipped them, 6-1, and then took some questionable shots on Jan. 24 in Philadelphia.

"It might have been back here somewhere," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said, touching the back of his head. "They pushed our face in the mud and kicked sand at us."

When the game was over, each team had 147 minutes in penalties. That was the most for the Capitals in a home game, the most for a Capitals' opponent in a Capital Centre game and the most for two teams in a Capital Centre game.

There were three fights in the first four minutes, but the third period featured the main bouts.

As the clock ticked down, Flyers defenseman Gord Murphy rode Khristich off the puck behind the Flyers' net. With the puck at Murphy's feet, Dale Hunter delivered a stinging elbow to Murphy's face.

Murphy went down in a heap and referee Ron Koharski blew the whistle. A scrum ensued but the Flyers' rage increased even as the bodies were untangled. Flyers Coach Paul Holmgren picked up a spare stick, stepped on the bench and started walking toward the Capitals bench.

When Holmgren got to the plexiglass that separates the benches he swung the stick, hitting the top of the glass.

"Awful," Holmgren said of Hunter's check. As for why he picked up the stick and stalked Murray, he said, "I don't see any reason to comment on that."

After bashing the plexiglass, Holmgren, stick still in hand, stepped in front of the bench and opened the door as if he was to go on the ice. He reconsidered.

"Maybe there were some bright spots after all," he said of his decision not to go on the ice, which undoubtedly would have brought a suspension.

Holmgren and the Capitals' Alan May started jawing at each other, which precipitated a fight with the Flyers' Scott Mellanby. Those two got fighting penalties and Hunter got five minutes for charging.

"I took him into the boards and they said I charged him," said Hunter, who has been an aggressive checker his entire career. "I was trying to finish my check. Maybe I skated too hard or too fast. That's the game -- you're playing the Flyers. It's a division game and we're battling for a playoff spot. Both sides played hard."

"I haven't been here that long, but some guys have vendettas," said the Capitals' John Kordic, who was brought in to provide punch, literally and figuratively.

In the first period, Kordic was elbowed by Flyers defenseman Terry Carkner, who then tried to run away, but failed and was pummeled. "It didn't take me long to have a vendetta," Kordic said.

With 7:56 left, Flyers enforcer Craig Berube decked goalie Don Beaupre behind the net. Several fights were born of that. In one, the Capitals' Nick Kypreos was pounding on Dale Kushner, so the Flyers' Murray Baron jumped in. Beaupre then tried to pull Baron off the pile. That brought Flyers goalie Pete Peeters from the other end of the ice. Peeters, who had replaced Hextall to start the third period, pulled Beaupre off the pile, mainly by grabbing the cage of Beaupre's helmet.

Play was delayed nearly 20 minutes while Koharski sorted out all the crimes and misdemeanors. Fans began taunting several Flyers -- the injured Rick Tocchet was the main target as he sat in the press box. Tocchet was doing a better job ignoring the taunts than assistant coach Ken Hitchcock, who moved toward the crowd before being restrained.

The next game between the teams is here March 16; they play in Philadelphia March 28.

"Let's face it," said Tocchet, "the Dale Hunter thing is not over." Asked if he would handle retribution, Tocchet said, "Sometimes, the anticipation is worse than actually getting the guy. . . . The thing is not dead, put it that way."